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About Abuse

Elder Abuse

Updated: 
August 15, 2019

What are the risk factors for elder abuse?

There may be certain risk factors that make a caregiver more likely to commit elder abuse in both the home and in professional care environments, such as:

  • current and untreated mental illness;
  • current abuse of alcohol;
  • lack of patience;
  • having a “short temper;”
  • lack of preparation and training for caregiving responsibilities;
  • caregiving from an early age;
  • lack of coping skills;
  • exposure to abuse as a child;
  • financial or emotional dependence on a vulnerable older adult;
  • a history of disruptive behavior;
  • lack of social and institutional support;
  • lack of formal services in the community for caregivers, like respite care or frequent breaks or shift changes at a nursing home;
  • an environment that tolerates or accepts aggressive behavior;
  • lack of administrative or community oversight for healthcare personnel, guardians, or other people responsible for an older adult’s care;
  • isolation from friends, family, or a support network;
  • negative or unsympathetic beliefs about older adults and aging; or
  • under-staffing, staff burnout, and stressful working conditions.1

1 This information was adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.